Searching for....

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sermon 02242013 Sunday in Lent 2


May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Creator of heaven and earth, even the places that are wilderness and desert have a beauty to them that show Your hand upon their creation.  As we hear how You lead Your children by a pillar of fire and a cloud enable us as we journey in the wilderness of this world to trust You to provide for our every need.  For this was ultimately fulfilled through Your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ Who came and died for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel during our Lenten pilgrimage.  AMEN.

While working at Staunton River State Park where the Dan River and the Staunton River met to form Kerr Reservoir that straddled the Virginia and North Carolina border, I had the privilege to lead many nature hikes, historical hikes and even some canoe adventures.  As leader one of the main tasks was always to keep the group together, unlike in the open prairies of Kansas where you could see for miles, in Virginia the trees and waterways were everywhere and keeping a group of 20-30 together was a monumental task at times.  This morning we will be considering the Wilderness Journey of the 2 million Children of Israel in our series of People and Places of Lent.  Hear our text from Exodus: (Exodus 13:17-22)

17 Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.” 20 Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.


Enter the 2 million Children of Israel who just left Egypt.  In haste they have left their homes for the last 430 years and now are travelling in the Wilderness of Egypt and Southern Israel.  No longer surrounded by the comforts of their homes, possessions or everything that gives them greatest comfort, in complete trust and haste they have departed into the most inhospitable land in the Wilderness.

 

Surrounded by wild animals, ­­­marauders, murderers and bands of people only interested in robbing their riches of gold from Egypt, the people of Israel travelled in the Wilderness.  During this time, God Who led them out of Egypt didn’t lead them the easy way, but led them to the Wilderness in order to protect them and prevent them from changing their mind by ‘seeing war, and return to Egypt.’

 

Moses clearly shows that God was walking with them and caring for them when he says, “The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.”  Leading them with these signs are not only a reminder for us of God’s interest, but investment in their well-being.  God clearly wanted to insure that they would make it to their destination, even by leading them through the desert and the wilderness.

 

Granted there were no Wal-Mart’s, McDonald’s or Taco John’s along the way, this crowd of 2 million needed God’s divine hand upon them, not only leading them through the Wilderness but also providing for them.  In the Wilderness God provided manna from heaven, quail as meat for His Children and water when needed even from a rock.  God knew their needs even before they did and provided for them day in and day out.

 

Yet, these same children rebelled against God and murmured against Moses.  They at times would follow their sinful desires and sin against God and turn away from Him, but God Who is faithful would provide for their needs even in the desert wilderness.  God “did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” because God’s divine hand was upon them and caring for their every need.

 

But of what consequence is that for us today.  We who live here in the ‘Wilderness of North Western Kansas’ may at times feel lost.  But God has not removed His divine hand from us either.  This past fall, we looked with question at God if He would provide us moisture for our Winter Wheat.  We were teased with rain, needing moisture and wondering what the Spring would find.  And now God has provided us with moisture without the usual winds.  God has provided for our needs.  Like the manna, quail and water, God has given us the greatest blessing we could imagine in receiving the moisture.  But this is of earthly things.

 

God’s gifts are clearly manifest as well in the gift of Jesus Christ for all eternity.  In, through and by the Gift of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary Jesus came not only for the Children of Israel in the Wilderness, but also for us today.  We celebrate every time we gather together and hear the Word of God the amazing gift of Jesus Christ for all of mankind.  For this gift is not given lightly, but because of the promise made to the people of Israel as they left Egypt, entered the Wilderness and even for us today here in Goodland, KS.  God comes to and for us today to set us free from sin, death and the devil and offer us life and salvation for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel during our Lenten pilgrimage.  AMEN.
//trial script